Day one in the belly of the beast

I completed my first day of jury duty, and have survived to tell you about it. It was a day of much adventure – not in the task itself, which was a yawner, but in a peripheral matter, transportation.

Minneapolis has made a conscious decision to discourage automobiles. So I figured I’d take the bus. There was a time when I rode buses a lot – but that was in another age. I found that today they’re discouraging buses as much as cars – there are very few bus shelters with schedules posted downtown. What the Oligarchs want, I think, is for the masses to rise up and demand more light rail. They love light rail in Minneapolis – unsurpassed opportunities for graft.

It’s been a long time since I stood at a bus stop on a chilly street in Minneapolis, watching for a bus that might come in a minute or an hour – who knows?

But that was later. I had gone online and planned my trip into town. That trip went fine, except that I got off the bus too soon and had to walk a few blocks to get to the Hennepin County Government Center, which towers like a vertical peanut butter sandwich over downtown.

My day in the juror pool is quickly described. Mostly nothing. We sat in the assembly room, a large carpeted room full of circular tables. After a while a judge gave us a greeting. Then we waited some more. Then the jury manager gave us an orientation talk and showed us a film.

Then we waited some more. Some worked on laptops. Some (like me) read books, dead tree or electronic. Some spread out jigsaw puzzles (they keep them there in a cabinet) on their tables and worked on them as teams.

We broke for lunch. An hour and a half.

Then we waited some more.

Around 2:00, about 25 people’s names were called, and they left for voir dire. I was not among them.

About a quarter to four, they sent us home.

That’s where it gets interesting. I’d planned my trip into town, but not my trip home. I figured how hard could it be? Just go back to where the bus lets people off, cross the street, and take the same bus home.

I forgot that the streets downtown are all one-way. I had to guess which parallel street to wait on. I guessed wrong. The street I went to was full of trains, which don’t run to Robbinsdale.

Finally I called up Metro Transit’s site on my smart phone and got directions to the corner of 7th and Nicollet. Where I waited.

And waited.

Lately I’ve been worried that I don’t spend much time out of doors. Well, I spent time out of doors tonight. Granted it was in the polluted atmosphere of an urban core, and not in God’s Country. But still. I was outside. And cold. Cold counts for something, right?

I think I waited about an hour before the bus I wanted arrived, and I took it home.

I learned valuable lessons.

Lessons I hope I’ll never need again, after jury duty is over.

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